I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Camden: So Very "Accountable"

This Camden takeover is going to be so awesome! Just ask the choicest of the choosy:
Those changes, according to Gloria Bonilla-Santiago, a professor at Rutgers-Camden and the founder of Camden’s LEAP Academy University Charter School, might include the following:
• New administrative leadership
• Private schools that accept vouchers
• An influx of additional charter schools
• National charter school chains or other educational organizations charged with running persistently failing public schools
• Approvals of additional Hope Act schools — schools that are similar to charters, but built with financial support from the state
“The first thing that will happen is that new leadership will come in with the executive powers to fire people and clean things up,” said Bonilla-Santiago.
“The district had a broken system. No one in leadership, even with good intentions, could make change. It was a broken system.
“There is no magic wand,” she added. “The district had serious systemic failure. It will take time. Camden is an embarrassment.” [emphasis mine]
But I guess this isn't an "embarrassment":
When Camden's LEAP Academy University Charter School compelled its new food-service management company to retain the school's executive chef and give him a $24,000 raise, LEAP also had to pay a $151,428 penalty to its previous vendor, documents show.
Including Michele Pastorello's new $95,000 salary, LEAP has spent nearly $250,000 this school year to keep him employed as executive chef. The position typically pays about $40,000, according to industry experts.
Pastorello is the live-in boyfriend of LEAP founder and board chairwoman Gloria Bonilla-Santiago. His raise, as well as the fee paid to the previous management company, Aramark, now are under review by the school's board of trustees.
On Friday, Aramark issued a pointed response to suggestions by LEAP that it was replaced because it was not meeting the school's nutritional goals.
Bonilla-Santiago has recused herself from votes dealing with the food-service contracts. Through a spokesman, she has declined to be interviewed.
Sounds like a "broken system" to me. But Education Commissioner Chris Cerf isn't worried...

Folks are sure to flock to Camden when they experience this level of "accountability"; right, Derrell?
Derrell Bradford, an advocate for wider school choice options in the state, also sees the Department of Education offering more options in Camden as a means of making the district “more desirable.”
Because nothing makes a district "more desirable" than having the "choice" to send your kid to a school that pays a quarter-million for their "chef."

Once again: the NJDOE used to have LEAP on their hit list:

But now?
With the state rather than a local school board overseeing applications, LEAP will likely apply for one of three available Hope Act slots, Bonilla-Santiago said.
Thanks to the state, Camden gets another LEAP? Bon appetit!


Unknown said...

It would appears that Cerf can't or won't do anything in regards to the craziness that is going on at LEAP Academy. If he can't do anything about LEAP, how in the world will he be able to do anything about the Public Schools in Camden.

In having Gloria Bonilla-Santiago talk about firing people and cleaning things up - perhaps these actions should start with LEAP. Those in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. What nerve!

joeswell said...

"DAVIS ELENTARY" - I believe that this should be spelled "DAVIS ELEMENTARY." I am a former Davis student (1964-1967). Back then, we were taught how to spell "E-L-E-M-E-N-T-A-R-Y."

What's the source for this graphic about the Camden City School performance - "Camden School Tiering?" Was that prepared by the State Department of Education? Does anyone proof read the stuff they put out? Who is the "six figure administrative leader" responsible? What was their score on the NJ ASK Test?